Friday, July 23, 1999. Pocono Raceway. Pennsylvania 500. Chevrolet notes and quotes. LARRY McREYNOLDS (Crew chief No. 31 Lowe's Monte Carlo) "I'm not really big into hoopla and press conferences and announcements and all that.
Friday, July 23, 1999. Pocono Raceway. Pennsylvania 500. Chevrolet notes and quotes.
LARRY McREYNOLDS (Crew chief No. 31 Lowe's Monte Carlo) "I'm not really big into hoopla and press conferences and announcements and all that. I'm a big believer that action speaks louder than words. Let your race car, your performance in this business, your performance on the race track do its speaking for itself. Then you guys are more than willing to talk to us when we do our jobs well. The main reason I talked to people at the Cotter Group, David Hart and Tom Cotter and got Richard and his people, we wanted to do this in the right way. We tried to do it properly and politically correct. You guys in the media after been overwhelming to in particular to Larry McReynolds over the last 10 or 11 months. Ya'll have been very interested in what I've been trying to do and what I've been trying to accomplish. I appreciate that. Ya'lls ink and the things ya'll wrote and said, I think has meant a lot to what we were trying to do, hopefully making a statement that you can start at the bottom in this sport and work your way up the ladder. I want to thank from the bottom of my heart, Richard Childress. He's a great car owner, and I knew that when I went to work for him two and a half years ago. I think he is even more so over the last 10 months shown what a great person he is in his patience, his willingness to work with me and his support for me. He's become a great friend, and a friend I will treasure for a long time. He's just that kind of person. It's like the good news-bad news today. "The bad news -- I'm hesitant to call it bad news because it's not bad news. It's a situation in which myself and John Dangler, with the help of a lot of people, we worked our guts out the last 10 or 11 months. John, in particular. He's the person I probably feel the most for that we didn't get this new race team put together. We worked hard at it. We did everything we knew to do. We felt like we had every i dotted and every t crossed. I'm not bashful about saying on June 25 I thought we had the Tide deal done, signed, sealed and delivered. On June 30, they basically told us that they were hesitant about going with a new race team. Unfortunately that deal is dead. "The thing I'm tickled about today that we put together a program with the Richard Childress Racing Team, No. 31, Lowe's, to be their crew chief for the next three years. I'm excited to be there. I believe in this guy right here. I believe in that race team. I believe in Richard Childress Racing. I know each and every day, people renew their contracts in this garage. It's a little bit of trivia information, but the main reason I wanted to come to you guys and proclaim this, is you guys have been good to me for the last 10 months in actually supporting and trying to help us accomplish what we were trying to accomplish."
MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "Basically, I feel like the winner in this deal. Larry came over just as I was starting to heal up halfway through last year. The success just came. We started running good and getting top five finishes. It looked like we were a threat to win a race pretty quick. We didn't pull it off until we got over to Motegi, but then we did get it accomplished over there and beat probably the sport's best at it. It made us feel good. We went into Daytona with a lot of momentum. We had four or five races there at the beginning of the year that were pretty awesome and it was the same deal, the 31 team is going to win any week. I don't know what happened. I think the whole race team being a little overwhelmed and not certain of their future and myself, not being sure who I was going to be working with, as much as all of us, and I've got to say this guy right here did the best job of anybody at flipping that switch. He did not take any of his focus away from working with that 31 team, and he was probably the strongest one out of myself and the race team at doing that. I think the race team might have lost a little bit, kind of being uncertain. I think maybe I did, and I don't really realize how or when or where, but it happened. We didn't think we had any problems with Kevin (Hamlin), and we didn't have any problems with Kevin. Kevin and I are great friends still today. He's a great crew chief. His style is working great with Dale Earnhardt. It just didn't work good with myself and Larry's did. I think through all of this, we pulled apart just a little bit. What this race team needs is what it got just about this time last year. A guy to come in here and be that cheerleader and that backbone of this whole thing and put the confidence back in the driver, put the confidence back in the race team. Everybody knows what their future is now. Everybody knows what we're going to do. Hopefully, this will be the darkest day we have in quite some time. "I don't expect this thing to turn around over night, but I think we showed some promise when we went back to Daytona. You folks probably don't realize how good a race car we had at Loudon. This guy changed everything on that car but the driver and I'm glad they didn't do that. I think they were right before doing that. We went out there a little bit guilty of over trying on the qualifying lap and starting back a little way amongst a bunch of other guys that were guilty of the same thing. That car was awesome. It was coming to the front. We went to eighth under green, and we had some problems. It just didn't show its promise, but this race team, that day to me, made a statement that we're on our way back. We're coming back. At that point in time, we still didn't know for sure what Larry was going to do. Larry and I had had a lot of heart to heart, Larry, Richard and I have had a lot of heart to hearts. We've stood here and talked and talked and talked. What are we going to do? What are our strong points? What are our weak points? Where's our focus? Where are we going? What do we need to do? "I'm going to a human performance deal to find my strengths and weaknesses. I'm sure we're talking about doing that with team managers and team members and crew chiefs and everybody, finding out professionally what they might think our weaknesses are. If we evaluate that in the same direction, we can turn it into positives. The most positive thing I have to say today is I'm very happy Larry is going to stay for the next three years, that's through the end of our Lowe's contract and hopefully we'll be renewing it for another three years at that time. That gives this team time to focus. We don't have to worry about someone coming in and saying, 'we've got a deal for you Larry or Mike you need to come over here and drive for us.' "I'm pretty pumped up about that. I'm excited to be signed up with Richard for the next three years and hopefully three more after that. At that point in time, Richard is probably going to be going off 'I'm not going to be bringing this guy out in a wheelchair to drive this race car.' Somewhere in the next six or seven years we'll see how Mike Skinner's performance is and see if he needs to stay in Winston Cup any longer or not. Hopefully we can win him some races between now and then, and hopefully we can win a championship. If this team can keep the steam it had in the first five races this year, we'll be in contention one of these next two or three years. I'm real excited about that. Like Larry said, I appreciate everything you guys do for us each and every week."
RICHARD CHILDRESS (Car owner No. 3 RCR Chevrolet Monte Carlos) "From RCR standpoint and an owner's standpoint, three things are really important. You've got to have the sponsorship and you've got to be able to finance what it takes to race. With Lowe's they gave us that. We're able to do the things, the research and development and everything we need to put together to get the right thing. Lowe's has done that for us. You've got to have a great driver. We felt when we hired Mike Skinner, a lot of people questioned it, but I still don't question our decision to have him in the car. I still think Mike has the makings of a great one if we put everything together. The third thing is having a good, solid relationship between the crew chief and driver. It doesn't matter. They can be the smartest guy or the greatest race driver, without chemistry and without the working relationship, it isn't going to work, not in this sport. I've seen so much positive with Larry McReynolds. I got to know a lot of things about him, and he's got to know RCR. He's given me some good advice over the last two and a half years, everything from what should we do with the aerodynamic program, engineering, and we followed through with a lot of it. In return, I've given him a lot of advice I think he follows up with. I think having Larry dedicated himself to a three-year program with Lowe's, I think it's a commitment that we can take that race team and put it on track. "I don't look at it really as that 31 team being off track. We just haven't had the finishes. I ain't going to get on the performance side of it that much because we're here to talk about Larry, but just quickly look back at how the car was running at Talladega. For whatever reason, we ended up in the grass. Mike got a little tight on Tony or Tony didn't give or whatever. The car was going to the lead at that point. "At Richmond, we had led off and on and had a contending winning car with Labonte. We had a bad pit stop, not a bad pit stop, we came out fourth, and got in a wreck. We had a good chance at winning the race. At Loudon, we had a good car. We had the fastest car at Texas when he blew the right front tire. I don't think this team has gotten off track. We struggled a little bit getting through qualifying for whatever reason. We've had some good talks, and I feel very positive about what we've done with this 31 team. I think what it's going to do having Larry McReynolds make a commitment to us, is going to make the whole RCR program stronger. It's going to make us a contender to win week in and week out. I'm very excited about the things we've got going on with the 2000 Monte Carlo, our new engine program. I'm looking forward to trying to get on a level playing field. I don't believe in no damn excuses for nothing. I don't accept it. You give us a reason and we can fix it. I said that yesterday in our meeting. I want to see us all on a level playing field, and I think you're going to see a different bunch of guys out there racing. Again, with Larry McReynolds the positive side of it is we have a long-term commitment to build on. On the other note, I did tell Larry, if things come up and turn around and he has an opportunity in a couple of years, I would sit down and talk. If Mike Skinner has an opportunity for one of the better cars out there today, it would be the 24, if he had the opportunity to get that 24 and I had the contract, just like with Dale Earnhardt several times over the years, I've never just hammered down and said you're staying here. I'm never going to hold nobody back. I wouldn't with Mike. I wouldn't do it with Larry or Dale or Kevin. Right now, he's made a three-year commitment and we're going to go through those three years."